One of my 2015 resolutions was to travel more. I went to nine countries and sixteen new cities, which is not much if you’re a travel fanatic but is still pretty good if you’re me.
For me, it’s always a battle between traveling, saving money, and just taking the time to enjoy life at home. Sometimes I feel like I should go somewhere, but I wonder if I’d actually be happier strolling the cobblestone streets of Lyon with Hugo and gelato (my other main squeeze), than I would be pinching pennies in Rome, even though the latter makes a more interesting story. So I try to be honest with myself and not travel just for the sake of it, just to say I did, or because I think I ought to. I know I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t travel at all, but I also know that I can’t go everywhere I want to and still save and have stress-free time at home, so the hardest part is deciding where to go, because there are so many interesting places to visit just a short plane ride away. OMG MY LIFE IS SO DIFFICULT!!!!!!!
It would be a lie to say that paid vacation isn’t an awesome part of being a lectrice. If anyone’s like, “Oh, the vacation doesn’t really matter to me, I love teaching French students at the fac so much I could do it twelve months a year!” they are full of shit.
No. Vacation is awesome.
But I still manage to overthink it.
Because I feel like I’m doing vacation wrong.
I feel like I should pack a bag and take the train all over Italy for a month, or hang out on the beach, carefree, in Croatia or Greece. It would be the perfect time to visit Normandy and Bretagne, where I’ve never been. Escaping the heatwave is reason enough to go!
But I’m still in Lyon.
It’s too hot, my favorite cafés (aka where the AC is) are closed in August, and almost everyone I know is out of town. It’s the ideal time to get out of town. So why haven’t I?
I was traveling for a few weeks in May and June when my family came to visit from California. We went to Germany, Switzerland, Paris, Bourgogne, and Vienna. I needed a little break to rest and you know, get clean underwear.
Then we moved apartments. It was the slowest move ever. Snails move house faster than we did. (Snails have an unfair advantage because they don’t have a washing machine.) My roommates moved out a week and a half before we did, and with them went the furniture, the stove, the refrigerator, the plates, everything. I tell ya, you don’t appreciate stuff like cutlery until it’s gone!
Also, it was 100 degrees, we lived in a five story walkup, and we had no refrigerator. I’m not convinced we wouldn’t have been better off dragging our mattress down by the river.
We moved into the new apartment gradually over a month. At the beginning, I was just happy to have a fridge and a coffee maker. Now I’m excited that we finally have a table. Tables are awesome!
Hugo found out that I was not exaggerating when I said I had the upper body strength of a chipmunk, but unfortunately we were already lugging a fold-out couch down the street (from two blocks away because there was no parking!) We are going to have to live here forever because no way are we moving all this furniture again.
So now we have a home, and instead of summer travels, I have a weird summer non-routine. It feels like being unemployed, even though I’m not. Do you know when you’re home all day, and you do everything on your list that you’re supposed to do, but you still feel like you haven’t accomplished anything at the end of the day?
Some days it’s hard to focus because the heat makes me feel braindead, so I languish in front of the fan and look up how much it would cost to go to Girona or Bordeaux, like, right now. But instead of hitting the road whenever I feel antsy, I’m learning to stay put and chug forward steadily.
Even so… I still have one trip planned for the end of the summer! After much should-I-or-shouldn’t-I agonizing, I booked tickets to Bilbao and San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain. I was dying to go and felt that I would regret it if I didn’t while I have the time and the resources. Then I’m flying directly up north for a wedding, so I’ll crash through Brussels and Lille on my way. (Which city is more awesome? I have an afternoon to spend in one or the other!)
A lot of people might roll their eyes when I call this “not traveling.” Visiting Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and, for a hot second, Belgium, is not traveling?
But on the flip-side, travel junkies would probably be equally flabbergasted that I spent almost eight weeks of paid vacation at home.
(And if you’re American, you might just be gob-smacked that I have so much paid vacation. But don’t worry, you earn a lot more money than I do.)
I do feel (self-inflicted) pressure to travel around Europe as much as I can while I can, because I have no idea how my life is going to change in a year. And there are a lot of places I want to go. I’m already dreaming about Toussaint vacation at the end of October. (Lisbon? Florence? Istanbul? Budapest?)
But for now, I’m doing the best I can to balance wanderlust with other priorities. I’m not a glamourous jetsetter, but I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to stay home.
If you’ve blogged about the Basque Country, post a link in the comments! I’d love to hear your tips.
Remember how I said I was going to visit the Languedoc Roussillon region of France? The whole thrifty adventure thing? Well, I knew I wanted to go to Montpellier, but not only Montpellier, but also not too far from Montpellier, and I knew I wanted it to be somewhere right on the coast.
And that is how we ended up in Sète.
When we got off the train, we were immediately charmed by Sète’s beautiful canals and started dreaming of an imaginary summer home in the charming town before we even made it to our Airbnb apartment. But at the end of our visit, we decided it wasn’t quite the right place to buy our imaginary summer property. Sète is a lovely town, and we had a great time strolling along the canal and lying on the beach and watching France play Ecuador. But to be honest with you, two days there was enough for me.